reading · Writing

The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Chapter 1.3: Supernatural Aid

Chapter 1.3: Supernatural Aid

This is after the hero has accepted the Call to Adventure! Maybe he refused it first, but he has

accepted it now. So the hero’s journey continues!

Chapter 1.1 was about the Call to Adventure.

Chapter 1.2 was about Refusal of the Call to Adventure.

This section is about supernatural aid. That is:

For those who have not refused the call, the first encounter of the hero-journey is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass.

So the hero finds a helpful figure, someone to give him things to help survive the trials and tribulations ahead. Things like amulets as mentioned in the quote above; knowledge probably counts, too; maybe weapons and trinkets as well.

I guess the helpful person could be the mentor figure. Like Obi-Wan in Star Wars and Dumbledore in Harry Potter. Luke gets his light saber from Obi-Wan. Harry gets advice.

Frodo’s ring probably counts as an amulet, too. But he gets from Bilbo; does that make Bilbo the helpful figure? He also gets advice from Gandolf. Maybe both Bilbo and Gandolf are helpful figures.

Then there is this line in the book:

What such a figure represents is the benign, protecting power of destiny.

So . . . is the helpful figure assigned to the hero by fate? By god? I don’t know. But I think this  means the helpful figure is a cheering squad, reassuring the hero and telling them can do this, no matter the odds. Maybe the helpful figure even shows them how to do whatever they need to do.

Protective and dangerous, motherly and fatherly at the same time, this supernatural principle of guardianship and direction unities in itself all the ambiguities of the unconscious – thus signifying the support of our conscious personality by that other, larger system, but also the inscrutability of the guide that we are following to the peril of all our rational ends.

I take this to mean that the helpful figure is basically like a parent and does a lot to sooth the insecurities of our hero.

And look! The guide, that thing that marks a new period in the hero’s life is here, showing the way to the end.

The book also says this about the helpful figure:

Not infrequently, the supernatural helper is masculine in form. In fairy lore it may be some little fellow of the wood, some wizard, hermit, shepherd, or smith, who appears to supply the amulets and advice that the hero will require.

Most of the helpful figures in the examples the book gives are actually female. I thought about ignoring this, but yeah. Although in the stories I was thinking of – Harry Potter, Star Wars – the figures are male. So there you go.

Really, I think the most important thing about this section is that hero finds someone to help the hero survive the adventure, usually by providing helpful objects or advice.

Others Blogging on This Topic:

  1. Adapting The Hero’s Journey for a Heroine from Kristen Pham
  2. Step 3: Supernatural Aid from Down The Rabbit Hole and Back
  3. Supernatural Aid: Looking for Guidance on Our Unschooling Journey from Living Joyfully
  4. What is the ‘Supernatural aid’? from frankindischleck

6 thoughts on “The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Chapter 1.3: Supernatural Aid

  1. Yeah, the more I think about the gender aspects of the thesis, the more I’m having a hard time with it. If this is a *monomyth*, why the fixation on gender?

    And as we were discussing earlier, there seems to be more and more dissatisfaction with the assumed gender roles. The first Matrix movie is very HW1KF, and as much as people loved it, they were annoyed Trinity just feel in love with the Chosen One, instead of just kicking ass herself.

    Leia was originally Luke’s love interest (or planned to be), not his twin. But if she is his twin, how come she doesn’t have the Force? At least in Harry Potter, Rowling was smart enough to show Harry was the Chosen One because Voldemort decided the prophecy was about Harry — and not Neville, who also fit the bill perfectly.

    1. I think the whole gender thing is because of the era it was written in. It is funny and odd at times, but I am trying to ignore it. Not sure how success I will be.

      Fraternal twins! That’s why not (or so I presume).

      I am still upset about the Chosen One thing in Harry Potter. Still!

  2. I had never thought of the connection between Dumbledore and Obi-Wan before, though the similarity between Gandolf and Dumbledore is obvious. What’s interesting though is that Gandolf was written before #HW1KF, and I think Rowling modeled Dumbledore after Gandolf far more so than any Campbellian archetype. Now, Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan was most definitely Lucas’ creation based on the Monomyth.I think from a storytelling standpoint the tone you take with the Helper can have a huge resonance over the rest of the story, since it their personality that helps to shape the Hero.

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